With 610,000 victims every year, heart disease remains the United States’ leading cause of death, ahead of cancer. Experts think that the nation’s top killer could be less fatal if Americans knew how to interpret cholesterol and high blood pressure readings.
According to a phone survey, most Americans are concerned that they might die from heart condition or stroke. Yet the survey also found that very few people are educated on the basic risk factors for cardiovascular conditions.
Dr. Steve Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio noted that heart disease is easily preventable if patients keep their cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Another risk factor for heart disease is type 2 diabetes, fact which very few Americans are aware of.
“Complacency is the enemy here,”
Dr. Nissen said.
The survey which the Cleveland Clinic’ published on its website involved 1,002 U.S. adults which agreed to take part in the survey in September 2016. Most Americans knew about some risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but their information was not complete. For instance, 77% of respondent knew high blood pressure is a major risk factor and 67% knew that obesity also plays a role.
About half of participants knew about the “bad” cholesterol and body mass index’ roles in the emergence of heart conditions. On the other hand, just 40% of respondents were aware that a healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80.
What’s more, a sizable number of respondents – 59% – incorrectly identified heart rate as a risk factor.
About 70% of respondents knew how much they weighed, but just 30% knew their waist circumference and even fewer – 18% – knew their BMI. However, even though most Americans knew a healthy BMI is linked to lower risk of developing heart disease, just 23% could tell when the BMI indicates a person is overweight.
Additionally, just 34% were aware that the so-called “apple shaped” body was a clear indication of a high risk of developing heart disease. Americans were also confused about cholesterol readings. Just 12% learned that cholesterol screening should be done in early adulthood. Moreover, most respondents thought high triglycerides levels are an indication of high cholesterol.
The survey also revealed most people (73%) didn’t know that heart disease is diabetes patients’ leading cause of death.
Experts recommend when these numbers start to creep up, to do some lifestyle changes such as exercising more or changing the diet even if doctors do not prescribe medication. Physicians don’t normally put patients on drugs if the reading are within healthy ranges but the risk persists.
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